South Korea on the brink of an epidemic and Italy is reporting a significant outbreak.
The number of Wuhan Coronavirus cases is now reported at 77,279, distributed between 32 countries and territories. The death toll currently stands at 2,251.
U.S. takes steps to prepare for pandemic
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that the U.S. is taking steps to prepare for the possibility of a pandemic.
Health authorities are closely monitoring the spread of the virus — not only in China, where the outbreak began and where the vast majority of the nearly 77,000 cases have been diagnosed — but also in the growing number of cases in other countries. By definition, a pandemic is an epidemic on more than one continent.
In South Korea, officials said cities were facing an “unprecedented crisis” as the number of cases doubled in a single day, rising to more than 200. Many of the infections diagnosed in Korea are linked to a single church service, said officials who urged residents to stay indoors as much as possible.
On Friday, Lebanon diagnosed its first case. And the Iranian Health Ministry has confirmed 18 cases of the illness, including four deaths.
South Korea may be on brink of declaring an epidemic
The reason for the pandemic preparation is that it appears South Korea is on the brink of declaring a COVID-19 epidemic, with 207 reported cases and one death.
The number of COVID-19 (2019-nCoV) infections has quadrupled from 51 Wednesday with most new cases being traced to church services in the southeastern city of Daegu, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). On Thursday, 53 new cases were reported.
…KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong during a press briefing early in the day confirmed that the majority of the new cases were “linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu, where the 31st patient, the country’s possible ‘super spreader,’ attended worship services.”
The 61-year-old woman tested positive for the virus earlier this week, having already attended worship services at the church on Feb. 9 and Feb. 16.
34 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S.
After the return of the Americans quarantined on the Diamond Princess off the coast of Japan, CDC officials report that there are now confirmed 34 cases of novel coronavirus in the country.
These include 21 cases among repatriated individuals, as well as 13 US cases.
“We are keeping track of cases resulting from repatriation efforts separately because we don’t believe those numbers accurately represent the picture of what is happening in the community in the United States at this time,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters Friday.
North Korea Claims Zero Coronavirus Cases, But Experts Are Skeptical
Apparently killing officials who break quarantine is not an effective infection control measure.
…South Korean media, relying on anonymous sources, have reported cases of COVID-19 in North Korea, some of them fatal. Those reports have not been independently confirmed. In a statement last week, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said, “The United States is deeply concerned about the vulnerability of the North Korean people to a coronavirus outbreak.”
…Observers believe fears of the virus may also have led North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to reduce his public appearances and scale back or cancel military parades and exercises. He was not seen in public between Jan. 25 and Feb. 16.
Reports suggest that closing the border with China, North Korea’s main trading partner, has caused economic activity to slump and prices to soar.
Coronavirus outbreak grows in northern Italy, 16 cases reported in one day
The infection is now beginning to hit Italy hard.
An outbreak of coronavirus in northern Italy worsened on Friday, with officials announcing 14 confirmed cases in the wealthy region of Lombardy and two in the adjacent region of Veneto.
Just hours after revealing that six people had come down with the virus in the first known cases of local transmission in Italy, Lombardy officials said a further eight had tested positive, including five health workers.
The government said that in the affected area, covering several small towns southeast of Italy’s financial capital Milan, it was banning all public events and closing schools, offices and sports venues.
29-year old Chinese doctor who postponed wedding to treat patients dies of infection
A 29-year-old Chinese doctor who postponed his wedding to treat patients just died of the disease.
Dr. Peng Yinhua — who worked in the outbreak’s epicenter — died Thursday after contracting the deadly infection as he treated patients at the People’s No. 1 Hospital in Wuhan’s Jiangxia district, official news agency Xinhua reported, citing the local health bureau.
Peng was hospitalized on Jan. 25 and transferred to Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital for treatment five days later. He died from the virus at 9:50 p.m. Thursday, despite doctors’ life-saving efforts, the report said.
The respiratory and critical illness doctor had planned to get married during the Chinese New Year holiday, but put off the ceremony so he could be on the front lines as the outbreak intensified.
Peng “never got to send out his wedding invitations, which are still in his office drawer,” Xinhua reported.
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